Akash Sarkar, a self-styled technomaniac is eagerly awaiting the release of iPhone 7 in India to add on to his prized possession of Apple products. He is one among the many who constantly toy with a number of Apple products like iPhone, iPad, Mac, iOS and the Apple watch in their daily lives.
When Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created the first Apple computer, they would have hardly imagined that Apple will become an iconic brand in the ever-growing market of smart gadgets.
Similarly, home appliances and gadgets, automobiles, industrial equipment, accessories, and number of existing and emerging products symbolize the evolution in the field of product designing. Thus the modern-day passion for new products and designs poses a need for professionals to design more innovative services and products for our daily use.
Designers in demand
Earlier, products were mostly hand-crafted where designers were artists or craftspeople. But with industrialization, mass production became a reality. Designers took on the role of creating products for consumers to satiate their growing taste for a variety of products.
According to Manish Joshi, Head of Department, Product Design, GD Goenka School of Fashion & Design, “Through the various developments of globalization and pro-active stance of the government to promote Indian industry, there is a great demand for originally produced and designed products, where Product Designers comes into picture. The designer is an asset to any organization because of their grasp of the multiple factors which go into making of a successful product.”
Head of Department, Product Design, GD Goenka School of Fashion & Design
Indian companies have now got a good grasp of production, and are rapidly aligning themselves to the power of design in value creation. Designers who were previously restricted to being employed only by larger firms are now employed by medium and small firms as well.
Product Design is a subset of Industrial Design. Product designing and manufacture is done through industrial processes. Product design is the process of creating new products from an initial idea or to improve the existing ones. The design of the said product initiates with materializing the concept or idea on paper, keeping in mind the usability of the product. Once the product is finalized, the feasibility and physical proportions are analyzed by means of a prototype, and it goes for manufacture. Eligibility to join an undergraduate programme in Product Designing is a pass in 10+2 in any stream like Science, Commerce or Arts. The minimum aggregate marks criteria vary from institute to institute.
What do you learn?
The curriculum of Product design course, which ranges from three to five years assimilates understanding design process, strength of materials, history of design, human needs and cognitive ergonomics etc. Design projects form the core of a product designer’s education. Hand skills, digital skills, visualization skills and articulation skills also form an integral part of the profession along with keenness to learn and adapt to modern technology.
An alumnus of National Institute of Design, Pranay Arun Kumar, stresses the fact that a designer must begin by asking the WHY for a project followed by HOW and WHAT. “The WHYs help in deciding and providing the motivation for some of the most crucial aspects of work. Once the need for a product/service/solution is established, it is important to ask the HOWs. The last phase and probably the simplest of the project is asking the WHATs. And then comes the fun part of working on the project using one’s own unique and creative abilities.” (See Box for Pranay’s product design project).
Where you can study?
Institutes in India offer Bachelor’s of Design or Bachelor’s of Science or Graduate Diploma programmes. A number of reputed institutes including National Institute of Design, (Ahmedabad); Symbiosis Institute of Design (Pune) offer these programmes. The GD Goenka School of Fashion & Design, Gurgaon, along with B.Des or BSc programmes also offer five-year Dual Degree programme. (See Table).
Select institutes offering programmes in product design
National Institute of Design
B.Des, M Des- Product Design
Symbiosis Institute of Design
B.Des Industrial Design
GD Goenka School of Fashion & Design
BSc (3 years)/ B.Des (4 years)/ BSc+ MSc (5-year) Integrated/ MSc (2 years)-Product Design
MAEER’s MIT Institute of Design
Graduate Diploma (4 years), Post Graduate Diploma (2 years)
Industrial Design Center, IIT
B.Des, M.Des, PhD program
Instrument Design Development Centre-IIT
Post Graduate programmes
After graduating in Product Design, a host of options are available in this field to pursue higher studies and specialize further. Indian institutes usually offer two-year Master of Design or Master of Science courses. Institutes also have programmes in collaboration with institutions abroad. The GD Goenka School of Fashion & Design offers exchange programme with Politecnico Di Milano (Polimi) of Italy. Polimi also offer four courses in Master’s level in Product Design. One can also pursue PhD programme from Industrial Design Centre-IIT Bombay. You can also apply to the current top-ranking design institutes based in UK and US. The University of Bridgeport offers Master of Professional Studies in Design Management (M.P.S) degree at the Shintaro Akatsu School of Design (SASD).
There are a number of career options for product designers in India. They are an essential component of the start-up culture, where design is the key differentiator between the many new product offerings. There are opportunities of employment in design studios, companies manufacturing consumer durables-electronics, house appliances, IT sector, small-to-medium scale industries, advertising agencies, media companies, event companies.
Recruitment and salaries
The top recruiters in India are Titan, Nilkamal, Bata, Hindustan Unilever, Adidas Group, VIP Industries, Wipro, Whirlpool, Microsoft, Tata Elxsi, Reliance Group, to name a few.
A product designer is generally paid as per industry standards. However, the pay package can range between Rs. 20,000 to 40,000 per month at the initial stage. The salary could go up with experience in this field and you earn more than Rs. 40,000 per month.
Other than the job of a product designer, you can opt to become a business director, project manager, entrepreneurship or own consultancy. There is also an ocean of opportunities beyond India as well.
If you can mix and match your creativity with science to produce something new, being a product designer may be a suitable career option for you.
DUMA for urban commuters
As a self-initiated exercise Pranay Arun Kumar designed a bicycle with a wooden frame. The idea came from a course in which he had to design a product inspired from an element of nature. Inspired by the lightweight, nimble and dynamic form of Cheetah, he designed DUMA.
DUMA, the road bike is conceptualized for urban commuters and passionate riders. The frame is made of hand sculpted teakwood and mild steel, which compliments the aesthetic as well as the functionality of the product. While the wood gives a sculptural and dynamic form with a soft, comfortable ride, the mild steel fork, seat-stays and chain-stays provide strength and durability to DUMA to withstand uneven roads.
Pranay Arun Kumar Alumnus, National Institute of Design
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